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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

 

Date: Saturday, 12 August 2017
Period Covered: 12:00hrs 05 August 2017 to 12:00hrs 12 August 2017 (GMT+7)

Thailand Incidents – Last 7 Days

N.B. â The orange zone shown in the âIncidents â Thailand Wideâ graphic represents areas of Southern Thailand where the UK, USA, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments have advised to avoid travelling to (Bureau of Consular Affairs, 2017, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2017, Global Affairs Canada, 2017, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017).
Executive Summary
The incidents that have occurred in Thailand over this week would indicate the country is POSSIBLY experiencing a heightened situation in terms of health risks, political developments, corruption and insurgency. Based on these events, it is POSSIBLE that over the next week and POTENTIALLY over the course of the month, Thailandâs stability could be at risk.
Introduction
This Weekly Intelligence Repot aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents and assess what they mean for the country in terms of what could happen in the future and what it could mean for the countryâs stability.
Over the past week there have been 28 incidents throughout Thailand. While this week has seen a slightly lower number of incidents compared to last week, it is just short of being halfway through August and the total number of incidents is at 40% of total incidents that occurred in July (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).1

Table 1. Incidents by Region, May 2017 to 12 Aug 2017
Country Wide Significance

1. 05-10 AUG 2017 – Rabies Outbreaks In Prachuap Khiri Khan And Trang Provinces:
Over this week there have been reports of a rabid dog biting people in Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan. While all those bitten received hospital treatment, authorities declared the Western part of Hua Hin district a rabies outbreak zone. The same happened in Yan Ta Khao district, Trang after eight cattle had died from the disease over the course of two months. All the cattle had been bitten by a rabid dog.
COMMENT. Rabies is spread through bites or scratches; usually by saliva. It is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. The disease is present on all continents, except Antarctica, with over 95% of human deaths occurring in the Asia and Africa regions. Rabies is one of the neglected tropical diseases that predominantly affects poor and vulnerable populations who live in remote rural locations (World Health Organisation, 2017).
Both Prachuap Khiri Khan and Trang are remote rural areas and both are near areas where foreigners frequent â Bangkok and Phuket. Dogs are more than able to move quickly throughout the area and one dog â as shown in Hua Hin district â can easily transmit the disease to multiple people in a short space of time.
This disease has long been present in Thailand. The Canadian and Australian Foreign Ministries warn their citizens about the presence of it and recommend avoiding contact with dogs, monkeys, bats and other mammals in Thailand (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, Global Affairs Canada, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
North
Nothing significant to report.
North East
Nothing significant to report.
Central
Nothing significant to report.
Bangkok

(Click on above image to expand)
2. 07 AUG 2017 â Criminal Court Rules That Suspect Was Murdered In DSI Custody:
The Criminal Court has ruled that former Phang Nga land official Thawatchai Anukul was murdered while in the custody of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). Thawatchai died in custody on 30 AUG 2016, a day after he was arrested by the DSI on suspicion of handing out 10 billion baht (US$301204900.00) in land deeds to wealthy people for prime seaside properties in Phuket, Surat Thani and Phang Nga provinces. Thawatchai’s death sparked doubts after an autopsy revealed he died from physical trauma and suffocation. Doctors found abdominal bleeding and a ruptured liver. While the DSIâs Director-General Col. Paisit Wongmuang has ruled out the DSI investigating the matter, the DSI has launched a disciplinary probe into the four staff members who were working that day.
3. 08 Aug 2017 â Vietnamese National Arrested For Smuggling Rhino Horn:
Officers at Suvarnabhumi Airport arrested a Vietnamese national after finding pieces of rhino horn in his bags. The rhino horn had come from Angola. The man had flown from Angola and was heading for Laos via Dubai and Bangkok. Rhino horns are considered a status symbol in Vietnam; they are used for decorations and in medicine â believing the horn can cure cancer.
COMMENT. This is the fourth arrest for this kind of activity at this airport since 01 May 2017. Of these arrests, an Indian national was caught at the same airport trying to smuggle tortoises and meerkats in his luggage, also animals from the African continent. On 30 June 2017, Thai authorities arrested a Guinean national in Chanthaburi province â near the Cambodian border – for his links to the attempted smuggling of 87 ivory tusks from Mozambique via Nairobi, Kenya in April 2016; the tusks were discovered at this same airport. These incidents would indicate that Suvarnabhumi Airport appears to be a location utilised by animal smugglers frequently.
4. 09 Aug 2017 – Deputy PM Rules Out Political Party Activities Resuming:
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon â pictured in Figure 1 below – has stated political parties will not yet be allowed to carry out activities despite the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passing the recent organic law on political parties unanimously. He declined to reply when asked if political activities will be allowed after the rice-pledging case against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been concluded.

Figure 1. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon
COMMENT. Recently, the NLA passed one of the organic laws necessary to return Thailand to democratic rule in a unanimous vote. The bill â the Political Parties Bill â sets out a primary voting system for parties wanting to contest the next election in a manner aimed at preventing previous incidents of corruption form political parties. The passing of this bill adds further weight to an election being held next year.
The verdict on former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to be handed down on 25 AUG 2017. Supporters of her and her Pheu Thai Party â especially those in the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, a.k.a. the Red Shirts â have often viewed legal actions taken against their members as efforts to undermine their party and the Shinawatra family that dominates its leadership. Allowing political activities to resume before the trial concludes would have the potential to lead to unrest and affect the ruling if Red Shirts members were allowed to carry out demonstrations outside the Supreme Court. COMMENT ENDS.
5. 09 AUG 2017 – Deputy PM Orders Security Be Tightened Ahead Of Anniversaries
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered a beefing-up of security ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Erawan Shrine bomb blast and the one-year anniversary of a spate of attacks in seven provinces. Security agencies have been put on high alert to prevent violence and they are being told to monitor activities of various groups including Muslim Uighurs and southern insurgents.
COMMENT. On 17 AUG 2015, a bomb went off at the Erawan Shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection, killing 20 people and wounding 130 others. The incident was linked to the deportation of 109 Uighur migrants to China in July that year.
On 11-12 AUG 2016, coordinated bombings and arson attacks took place in Prachuap Khiri Khan and six southern provinces, killing four people and injuring 36. It was believed the militants were hired by people with political motives to carry out the attacks. The incidents came shortly after the Aug 7 charter referendum.
These anniversaries would indeed be a concern for the Thai government and would nonetheless be a justifiable concern for not allowing political activities to resume as political demonstrations in Thailand have historically become violent. Such activities being allowed at this time could indeed feed into any remaining tensions about the bombings and lead to unrest. COMMENT ENDS.
6. 10 Aug 2017 – Human Trafficking Prevention And Suppression Committee Rolls Out Anti-Human Trafficking Plan:
The Human Trafficking Prevention and Suppression Committee â chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon â rolled out an anti-human trafficking plan which corresponds with a United States recommendation given to Thailand in its latest Trafficking in Persons report. General Prawit has reportedly told officials to work with the civic sector to deal with the problem and all state agencies must give updates on their achievements every three months.
COMMENT. This incident comes in the wake of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) and the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) publication of “Trafficking in Persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to Thailand.” The executive summary of this report points to Thailand being a focal point for trafficking in the region and makes calls for the efforts to address human trafficking which would suggest that the Thai government is not doing enough (UNDOC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Thailand Institute of Justice, 2017). The Thai government has already had to deal with criticism of its efforts to combat human trafficking by the US State Departmentâs report on human trafficking which labelled Thailand as a âsource, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking (Office of the Under Secretary For Civilian Security Democracy & Human Rights, 2017) ,â which resulted its rating as a Tier 2 Watch List country – âThe government of countries that do not fully meet minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards (Office of the Under Secretary For Civilian Security Democracy & Human Rights, 2017) .â
Furthermore, the recent and biggest human trafficking trial in Thailandâs history featured a former Royal Thai Army General â LTGEN Manas Kongpaen â as well as police officers, local politicians and Myanmar nationals being convicted. In addition to the smuggling and trafficking migrants on the Thai-Malaysia border, some of those found guilty were also convicted for taking part in organized transnational crime, forcible detention leading to death, and of rape. The feature of these men being involved in human trafficking would not be a positive image for the current military government (PRATTEN 2017c).
Considering recent events surrounding the issue of human trafficking in Thailand, the outcome of the meeting and its timing would appear to be an effort to head off any criticism from UNDOC, TIJ and other non-government organisations. COMMENT ENDS.
7. 11 Aug 2017 â Thai PM To Use Article 44 To Restructure Water Management Agencies:
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is planning to exercise his special powers under Article 44 to restructure water-related agencies â but not to merge them. The new structure of water-related agencies should increase integration of systems and resources, allowing the country to achieve better water management.
COMMENT. Article 44 of the Constitution gives the Prime Minister chief a large amount of power and it has been a point often made by the Prime Ministerâs critics and civil society groups. However, Thailand has had several water-related problems such as the recent floods up in the North and North-Eastern parts of the country (PRATTEN 2017b). COMMENT ENDS
8. 11 Aug 2017 â Eight Members Of Police And Military Arrested For Extortion And Kidnapping:
Eight suspects, including a high-ranking military officer, a police investigator and four navy sailors, have been arrested for the alleged kidnapping of two businessmen and a 20 million-baht (US$602409.80) extortion demand last month. Police MAJGEN Surachet â chief of the Patrol and Special Operation Division (PSOD) â has alleged the gang has extorted several people, estimating their takings at more than 50 million baht (US$1506024.50).
The arrested suspects are –
Major General (MAJGEN) Jaroon Arpha, attached to the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters;
Police Lieutenant Colonel (Pol LTCOL) Natthakrit Yutthaya, an investigator with the Economic Crime Suppression Division’s sub-division 5; Navy personnel Aphiwat Srinaprom, Thepphithak Ratthanee, Saowadet Sakkittinan and Songwut Thiengtham; and Opas Sriya, Uthit Kokaew, Thitikorn Chuenura and a Singaporean, Ko Tek Chuan.
Police MAJGEN Surachet Hakpal said an investigation was launched after Surachai Sae-yang – proprietor of airline businesses New Gen Airways and Kanta Group (Thailand) Co Ltd â sought help from the PSOD last month. He informed police that a group of nine men took them from their office to meet MAJGEN Jaroon, who accused them of using fake house registration documents and identification cards. Songsak and Surachai were released after handing over 1 million baht.
COMMENT: These arrests and the court ruling regarding the death in custody that occurred at the DSI show a willingness for Thai authorities to clamp down on corrupt activities but will nonetheless give critics of the NCPO and the wider military government further evidence for their critics to use. Such activities, combined with the human trafficking trial that saw senior military and police officers convicted would be effective for pushing for a faster return to democracy. COMMENT ENDS.
East
Nothing significant to report.
West
Outside the rabies outbreak mentioned above, nothing significant to report.
South
Nothing significant to report.
South East

9. 06 AUG 2017 â IED Attack against Royal Thai Army Transport Vehicles in Narathiwat:
An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated against at least two Royal Thai Army vehicles in Narathiwat. No casualties were caused. Imagery of the incident is shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Imagery of IED incident. (Click on above image to expand)
COMMENT. Little information has been found on the type of IED used. Previous IED incidents in this part of Narathiwat have typically been motorcycles with explosives strapped to them, detonated by remote (RCIED). Based on the imagery, no motorcycle parts appear to be in the IED site. This IED appears to be different than previous RCIEDs. COMMENT ENDS.
10. 08 AUG 2017 â Thai Ranger Shoots at a University Student at PSU Pattani Campus:
A Thai Ranger – SGT Preecha Intharangsi – fired three shots from his 9mm pistol at a Prince of Songkhla University (PSU) student. No casualties resulted from the incident. MAJGEN Jatuporn Klampasut, commander of the 22nd Pattani Ad Hoc Rangers Unit, paraded Preecha at a press conference on 9 August at the Ingkha Yuttha Borihan camp in Nong Chik District and apologised for the incident. He said Preecha will face the harshest military punishment. Bokoree Kamasae, President of the Student Union of PSU Pattani, condemned the shooting, calling it attempted murder.
COMMENT. Pattani province has been an area of high insurgent activity from 01 May 2017 to present. There have been IED attacks â including the Big C Supermarket bombing â shootings of civilians, teachers, soldiers and police. The above incident and the reaction it by the student union president will be an effective tool for insurgents to use for future attacks, especially in with the anniversaries that prompted Deputy Prime Minister Wongsuwon to order security to be increased. COMMENT ENDS.
11. 09 AUG 2017 â Complex Attack on Paramilitary Rangers in Chanae District, Narathiwat:
The complex attack that occurred in Chanae district contradicted previous assessments on the number of insurgent groups fighting in the region. It would appear that there are at least three groups active in the South East with this particular one being active in the West of Narathiwat province and Yala province. Furthermore, the conduct of their attack would indicate this group has military training. As shown in the post incident report of this attack, this group does not appear to carry out attack often (PRATTEN 2017a).
Gulf
Nothing Significant to Report.
COMMENT. Examination of open source reporting of illegal fishing and piracy in the South East Asian region has alluded to piracy and illegal fishing being rife in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea. However, efforts to detect specific incidents of this activity have been unsuccessful. Incidents of this activity will continue to be sought and a future âsnapshotâ product will look to provide an overview of it. COMMENT ENDS.
Assessment

The incidents that have occurred in Thailand over this week would indicate the country is POSSIBLY experiencing a heightened situation in terms of health risks, political developments, corruption and insurgency. Based on these events, it is POSSIBLE that over the next week and POTENTIALLY over the course of the month, Thailandâs stability could be at risk.
The rabies outbreaks in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Trang provinces are in areas close to main population centres and popular tourist areas â Phuket and Bangkok. While the existence of rabies in Thailand is nothing new and the countryâs heath infrastructure has the means to deal with the disease and treat those who could be exposed to it; the ease with which the disease can spread through bites and scratches from dogs, monkeys, bats and other mammals in Thailand could POTENITALLY lead to the disease spreading further through the country quickly and require ore areas to be declared âRabies Outbreak Zones.â
While the anniversary for the attacks that occurred in Prachuap Khiri Khan and other areas in the South has passed at the time of this report, the anniversary of the bombing near the Erawan Shrine is yet to occur. Furthermore, the verdict against Yingluck Shinawatra is to be handed down in 12 dayâs time. The outcomes of these events â particularly the verdict that is handed down â will POTENTIALLY be a cause for those with grievances against the Thai government â such as the Red Shirts and Muslim Uighurs linked to those who carried out the bombing â to carry out demonstrations that could lead to unrest or even further bombings in Bangkok.
The scenarios mentioned above will also be POTENTIALLY exacerbated by the recent events surrounding the Thai police, Army and government in Bangkok. The arrest of an Army Major General as the leader of a kidnapping and extortion gang, the ruling of the death in custody being caused by members of the DSI, the use of Article 44 by the Prime Minister â regardless of its intention or potential benefit – the publication of a report on human trafficking that could further paint the government in a bad light and the ruling out of a resumption of political party activities despite the unanimous passing of the Political Parties Organic Law could POSSIBLY encourage those critics of the government who want a quicker return to democracy to increase their activities, they could POTENTIALLY be encouraged to carry out demonstrations that lead to unrest in Bangkok.
There is also the chance that insurgents in the South East will PROBABLY increase their activities. In Pattani, the recent misconduct by a Thai Rangers Sergeant and the reaction by the PSU student union president will POSSIBLY provide encouragement for insurgents in Pattani to increase their attacks. Given that insurgents in this province have been very active and indiscriminate in who they target before this incident, the violence in this part of Thailand will PROBABLY become much worse and feature an increase in attacks on just about anybody.
The type complex attack in Narathiwat will PROBABLY be carried out again but will feature soldiers being killed rather than wounded. While recent events in Patani could be used as justification for further activities, at this time the frequency of their attacks and the nature of them will POSSIBLY mean that the next attack will not happen until a fortnight at the very least; the post incident report on this attack showed this group carried out an ambush which requires a high level of planning and discipline, so this third group that has been identified will POSSIBLY be laying low at the moment and POTENTIALLY planning for their next attack.
References
BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Wahington D.C.: US Department of State. Available: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/thailand.html [Accessed 01 July 2017].
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,. Available: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/thailand.aspx [Accessed 01 July 2017].
FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. London: Foreign and Commonwelath Office. Available: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Ottawa: Global Affairs Canada, . Available: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 August 2017].
NEW ZEALAND MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Available: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR CIVILIAN SECURITY DEMOCRACY & HUMAN RIGHTS. 2017. Trafficking in Persons Report 2017. Trafficking In Persons Report [Online], 2017. Available: https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271339.pdf [Accessed 29 June 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: Complex Attack On Thai Rangers In Chanae District, Narathiwat. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/10/Post-Incident-Report-Complex-Attack-On-Thai-Rangers-In-Chanae-District-Narathiwat [Accessed 12 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 07 August 2017. Thailand [Online], 07 August 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/06/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 07 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 24 July 2017. Thailand [Online], 24 July 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/24/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 24 July 2017].
UNDOC REGIONAL OFFICE FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC & THAILAND INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE. 2017. Trafficking in persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to Thailand. Available: https://www.unodc.org/documents/southeastasiaandpacific/Publications/2017/Trafficking_in_persons_to_Thailand_report.pdf [Accessed 12 August 2017].
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION. 2017. Rabies Fact Sheet [Online]. Malaysia: World Health Organisation,. Available: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/ [Accessed 12 August 2017].
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